Anger as Michael Winner sticks knife in with ‘no good Hampstead restaurants’ jibe

14:25 16 February 2012

Food critic Michael Winner

Food critic Michael Winner

Archant

The famous food critic has criticised the food offering of Hampstead, which has no Michelin star restaurants

It may have an artistic reputation to kill for – but Hampstead’s food offering has been criticised by Michael Winner who says
“it has never had good restaurants”.

The food critic, who has famously been banned from restaurants for his acerbic critiques, told the Ham&High: “Hampstead is not known as a culinary centre – it has never had good restaurants.

“There used to be one good one. I forget the name of it, it had bookcases around it, and, as you went up Haverstock Hill, it was up there.

“But now, I don’t know of any good restaurants in Hampstead and I don’t know anybody else who knows one. There aren’t any. They are all chains.”

The comment has riled local restaurateurs, including the management of Hampstead’s oldest restaurant La Gaffe, which it celebrates its 50th anniversary next month.

Lorenzo Stella, manager of La Gaffe in Heath Street, said that the criticism was “utter rubbish”.

He said: “Actually the businesses that have been the most successful in Hampstead and have lasted longest have been independent restaurants.

“Probably the mistake this person is making is how you judge restaurants.

“We are not performing culinary gymnastics – we’re not looking to be a three-star Michelin restaurant with the show to go with it. We are just interested in one simple thing and that is good food.”

In contrast to Mr Winner’s luke-warm review of Hampstead’s restaurant scene, another leading critic has celebrated the culinary offering of neighbouring Kentish Town.

Kebab shop E Mono was propelled into the limelight before Christmas when The Times’ restaurant critic Giles Coren, who lives in Kentish Town, gave it a glowing review.

But of the 54 restaurants that have at least one Michelin star in London, none are situated in Hampstead.

Foodies seeking posh nosh in Camden are forced to stray to Bloomsbury, where there are two restaurants which both have one star.

The absence of a Michelin star in Hampstead is in stark contrast with other upmarket north London neighbours.

Islington has two one-star Michelin restaurants, St John and North Road.

Ham&High food critic Joseph Connolly agreed in part with Mr Winner’s comments.

He said: “There are good restaurants in Hampstead – The Wells, Villa Bianca – but there are no great restaurants.

“Why that is will be a mystery forever. It’s not for the want of suitable premises. The old Jack Straw’s Castle or the present rather lamentable Freemasons’ Arms would have been splendid.”

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